Acting for two decades, Daniel Mays has appeared in many television series and films, some of which earned him accolades. His appearance in Shifty earned him a nomination for Best Supporting Actor at the British Independent Film Awards. Many might recognize him for his role of Tivik in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Known for playing heavy-type roles, Mays finally gets a fresh start as a fun lead in the role of Danny, a music executive out of place who discovers a group of sea-shanty singing fishermen in Fisherman’s Friends, which comes out tomorrow On Demand and on Digital.

WorldFilmGeek had the chance to talk to Mays about his work on the film.


Hi Daniel! Thank you so much for talking about Fisherman’s Friends. I got to watch the film yesterday. I ended up liking the movie so much it felt like it was more than a biopic. It was also about a guy who who is looking to sign the group going through changes himself. Overall, it was a feel good movie, even with the heartbreaking moments.
Yeah, it’s quite a great film, isn’t it? You can kind of come at it thinking it’s this sort of sweet, cozy little number. But there is a lot of depth and emotion in it, particularly towards the back end of the film. And you’re right. I mean, Danny finds himself really comes to a kind of crossroads in his life inadvertently, you know, and he just kind of hopes to make changes. There’s also the girl in the village he falls in love with and he falls for the whole community. It’s a really kind of heartwarming, uplifting film it certainly when it was released, in the United Kingdom, kind of surpassed our expectations.

Danny (Daniel Mays, right) is not happy with the plan set up by Troy (Noah Clarke) in Fisherman’s Friends (Samuel Goldwyn/Fred Films/Powder Keg)

What led you to the role of Danny?
I had never done this type of role. I’ve done such hard hitting heavy roles in the 20 years I’ve been acting, and this felt like a kind of natural departure. You know, and what I really liked about it was that it was obviously based on the true story. You know, these guys were discovered back in 2010 seeing on the seaside in Port Isaac. When you’ve got that as its foundation for that movie, and then the kind of fishermen themselves in a story kind of amalgamation of the real fishermen. And you throw in this sort of romantic storyline and I just thought, you know, if it was done well, and it could be really uplifting and a crowd pleaser. It certainly has that as well as the sea shanties. So, there’s a kind of fantastic musical elements are great.

That’s awesome! What was it like working with director Chris Foggin?
Chris is an absolute sweetheart. He’s a young aspiring director. He’s got a few other good credits under his belt, but he really needs from the front. You know, I think he really was able to add many layers to the characterizations. I think he the sound great subtlety and nuance under his direction. And I mean, he had a genuine, heartfelt passion for the story, you know, and he’s one of the nicest guys you could make a mark with. So, I think that Chris’s natural enthusiasm was infectious across the ensemble of actors.

The cinematic version of the real-life group Fisherman’s Friends

One thing of importance in the film is that we see Danny slowly changing to a better man and even finds love and it’s all driven by such a terrific cast, from James Purefoy and Sam Swainsbury to David Hayman. This sounds like it was a terrific cast to work with.
Yeah, I mean, I completely agree with the excellent actors that they assembled. And what was crazy about it is, you know, I’ve never actually worked with any of those actors before like James Purefoy and David Heyman. So, you know, I’ve been acting for 20 years and it’s always great to work with new people. Everybody hit it out of the park. I think we had a natural camaraderie throughout the whole shoot. And that really does come across on screen.

The chemistry definitely seemed natural in the film and that’s what always makes a great film. If you had to choose a favorite scene of the film, what would it be?
That’s a good question! One of my favorites is the scene where Danny has to wake up early in the morning to get on the boat and he’s running down the hill! That was kind of a slapstick moment in the film. I also enjoyed all the singing in the pub. We shot all the scenes in only one pub, the Golden Light. I wasn’t singing because I played the manager. But the music was so infectious that I knew all the lyrics by the end of the shoot (Laughs)

There’s also a scene where the youngest member of the group, Rowan, is signing one of the ballads. It really targets your heartstrings because it comes at this really emotional moment in the film involving one of the major characters. You can’t help but be moved by the lyrics and the sentiment in the song.

A heartwarming moment as Danny (Daniel Mays) finds a potential place he can call home in Fisherman’s Friends (Samuel Goldwyn/Fred Films/Powder Keg)

I know the scene and I won’t lie. That scene nearly made me break. I started to tear up pretty bad during the scene.
When we shot the scene, I was very emotional. And I was worried I was a little too emotional. I turned to Chris [Foggin] and told him I think I gave way too much there. And he assured me I didn’t, because it was that point where my character really fell in with the community and he’s obviously falling for Tuppence Middleton’s character  and respected everyone in the community.

With film and TV production slowly coming back, are there any new projects on the horizon?
Yes! I have a show called Code 404 that’s premiering next month on Peacock TV. We just finished shooting the second season of the show, so the first season is coming to the U.S. there. I also have the show White Lines on Netflix. I had a blast doing that series. I am also working on a new film called Shaun. The culture is slowly moving back in terms of film and TV production, getting back on its feet so I’m pretty excited about that.

Awesome! Fisherman’s Friends comes out tomorrow and it’s a wonderful film that’s more than a biopic about an unlikely band who succeeded, but the manager who changes and finds himself in the midst of gaining that success. Daniel, thank you so much again for talking about the film and I hope everyone gets to see it!
Thank you so much for having me!

A Special Thank You goes to Katrina Wan PR and Daniel Mays for making this interview possible.